Tower Renewal Toolkit
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The Tower Renewal STEP program helps property owners and managers to reduce operating costs, improve building value and improve the quality of life for residents.
Owners and property managers are supported to improve in six key areas, energy, water, waste, safety, operations and community, through a free benchmarking of their property’s performance in energy, water and waste, an on-site assessment and a customized action report.
The links and resources in this Toolkit also help to lower costs, access financing, engage with tenants and improve the building in energy, waste, water, community building, safety and operations.
Improving your Energy Performance
Get an energy audit to identify areas for savings. Both Toronto Hydro and Enbridge provide financial incentives for up to 50 per cent of the cost of an energy audit. See the Tips for Getting the Best Energy Audit – Coming soon.
Take advantage of the City’s Hi-RIS financing tool to access low-interest, long-term loans to cover the costs of energy and water retrofits (loans are paid back over-time through your property tax bill).
Consider an Energy Saving Performance Agreeement through the Toronto Atmopsheric Fund to finance your energy retrofits.
Utilities are the single largest controllable expense in multi-residential housing.
Consider electricity-related retrofits such as lighting upgrades, motion sensors, CO2 sensors on garage fans, variable frequency drives, and more. Toronto Hydro offers financial incentives up to 50 per cent off the cost of retrofits.
Consider natural gas related retrofits including high-efficiency boilers and make-up air units, low-flow showerheads, heat recovery ventilators, SolarWall exterior cladding, and building automation and control systems. Enbridge offers financial incentives up to 50% off the cost of retrofits (Affordable Housing providers or building in eligible low-income areas may receive further incentives).
Engage tenants in energy conservation. Here’s a 6-Step Guide to Tenant Action. Consider using posters, including conservation information in your Welcome Package, sharing utility consumption information so residents are aware of how much they’re using, door-to-door updates, and messaging at tenant events.
The City of Toronto LiveGreen program may also be able to do a resident engagement booth in your lobby, with a spinning wheel, discount cards, and multi-lingual literature. Contact the Tower Renewal team if you are interested in setting one up.
Staff Training & Engagement
Engage and train staff in energy conservation. The Building Operators Certification Program trains property owners, managers and their building operators to access the latest tool and best practices to improve building efficiency. Receive up to $1,500 off course costs!
When it’s time to repair or replace your building’s roof, install a cool roof or a green roof which can help lower energy costs. The City offers funding through the Eco-Roof Incentive Program.
Check out the following websites for more information:
- The Sustainable Technologies Evaluation Program (STEP) led by the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA)
- Canadian Solar Industry Association
- Canadian Geoexchange Coalition
- Ontario Geothermal Association
- See more energy efficiency tips from the Housing Services Corporation and see the EnergyStar website for details on lighting, appliances and more.
Improving Your Water Performance
Log into the online MyWaterToronto tool to track your account’s water usage and be able to monitor consumption. Get a water audit or assessment.
Consider retrofits such as:
- Low-flow showerheads (financial incentives available from Enbridge including free showerheads if you are based in one of the low-income census tracts)
- Ultra-low-flow 3L flush toilets (financing may be available through the Hi-RIS financing tool)
- Faucet aerators on all kitchen, bathroom and other faucets
- Front-loading, high-efficiency washers in the Laundry Room
- High-efficiency appliances in units (e.g. dishwashers)
Studies show that many residents are unaware of what not to put in drains, such as grease and toxic chemicals, which ends up clogging sinks and wasting water. Remind tenants what not to flush or pour down the drain.
You may want to share these water-saving tips with residents too.
In some Tower Renewal neighbourhoods, Toronto Water can host a free booth in your lobby to engage residents on water conservation. If you would be interested in this, contact the Tower Renewal team.
Follow a water maintenance program including monitoring of water consumption, leak checks, and yearly sample inspections of toilets and showerheads.
Water Efficient Landscaping
Use low-water landscaping around the property so you can significantly cut down on irrigation costs. Consider a Pollinator Garden with native plants to create habitats for butterflies and bees (see this guide on creating Pollinator Gardens in Toronto).
Collect rainwater using a rain barrel and use it for outdoor irrigation and washing.
Water Efficiency for Pools
Have a pool at your building? View these water efficiency tips for swimming pools.
Manage stormwater on your property by:
- Making sure you’ve disconnected your downspout
- Considering a green roof that absorbs rainwater (financial incentives available)
- Using permeable pavement that allows some water to filter through
- Planting rain gardens and bio-retention areas to better absorb rainwater
- Using “swales” or roadside ditches on the property
Reducing Waste & Increasing Recycling
Waste Collection Services
See all waste collections available from the City and fees for garbage collection (recycling and organics are free, as is bulky waste, household hazardous waste and e-waste, so the more waste you divert to these collections, the less you pay!)
Assessing Performance & Making a Plan
Conduct a waste and contamination assessment by getting started with this helpful template of “Getting to Know Your Waste”.
Taking a few minutes to make a Waste Reduction Plan can help you identify the most effective ways to save money on waste collection costs, reduce contamination in recycling bins, and get residents more engaged. Here’s a sample waste reduction plan.
Increase tenant engagement in waste reduction and recycling. The City of Toronto provides a range of helpful posters and print resources (including stickers) for you to order for free if your collections are with the City. They can also organize lobby booths or presentations to help educate and encourage residents to recycle.
Promote the 3Rs Ambassador Program, for residents to be part of a network of waste reduction volunteers and promote recycling and diversion among their peers at the building. Buildings with 3R Ambassadors have higher diversion rates.
Provide tenants with in-unit recycling and organics containers (call 311).
Staff Training & Education
Include all staff in waste reduction discussions and refresh staff training and education about waste diversion. For buildings who receive waste pick-up through the City of Toronto, the City offers a free yearly multi-residential waste diversion training workshop for building staff.
Improving Your Operations
Do Preventative Maintenance to delay the need for replacement of building components, address potential problems before they become unmanageable or too costly, and prevent system emergencies. Coming soon: a Preventative Maintenance schedule, calendar, guide and building inspection form.
Develop and follow a realistic, effective Improvement and Capital Plan so that you can realistically plan for the future based on the condition, age and needs of your building. Coming soon: Capital Planning resources including a worksheet and a ‘decision tree’ for prioritizing capital plan improvements.
Resident Rights & Responsibilities
Ensure residents’ rights and responsibilities are clearly posted and distributed, for example, when residents sign the lease, at move-in, and in the rental office. See the Information for New Tenants brochure, as well as the Guide to Tenant Rights.
Staff Training & Education
Support building operations staff through sending them to the Building Operators Certification Program. This course trains building operators to access the latest tools and best practices to improve building efficiency — and you can receive up to $1500 off course costs!
Improving Safety and Sense of Security
Be prepared for Emergency situations
“Get Emergency Ready” High-rise Living booklets to distribute to tenants (now in 10 languages)
Contact Tower Renewal for a free on-site presentation for building staff and tenants on how to easily, affordably prepare for emergencies
Read the Landlord Guide to Emergency Preparedness with helpful tips and contacts.
See the Backup Power Guidelines for multi-residential buildings.
Follow @TorontoHydro on Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates about power outages
Coming soon: Fire Safety Plan responsibilities for apartment landlords.
Use “Fire in your High Rise” posters for tenant education and include information in your Welcome Package (now available in 12 other languages) – request printed brochures from the Tower Renewal team.
If you would like a free fire safety and education seminar or workshop at your building, contact Toronto Fire Services Public Education at 416-338-9375 (programs can be tailored for seniors or youth).
Toronto Fire Services will also work closely with you to educate tenants if you have specific challenges (e.g. tenants throwing cigarette butts) – the team can develop and print for you a tailored letter to deliver to all tenants. Call them at 416-338-9375.
See this Landlord Guide to Extreme Heat Situations and how to support tenants who may not have A/C.
Support Residents’ Safety and Sense of Security
Your local police division’s Crime Prevention Officer will be happy to conduct a free CPTED safety audit (Crime Prevention through Environmental Design), looking at how the exterior and interior of your building can become safer for all residents.
Crime Prevention Officers may also be able to conduct free Safety Workshops at your building with residents and distribute safety literature. Find your local police division and Crime Prevention Officer here.
You may want to consider a METRAC safety audit to raise resident awareness and reduce the risk of violence and harassment in the building and community.
Post your 24/7 Emergency Contact number for residents so they can contact a building rep in case of emergency.
Become involved in your local Community Police Liaison Committee (CPLC).
Creating a Vibrant, Healthy Apartment Community
The following tools can help you foster a healthy, vibrant community in your apartment building and neighbourhood.
Giving a Welcome Package to new tenants
You can also create your own Welcome Package that gives specific details about your building, recycling, energy and water conservation, tenant rights and responsibilities, safety and emergency preparedness information, helpful info about the local community, and more.
Install bike racks on the property. Promote free and low-cost options for recreation programs in Toronto – the brochure can be displayed in a prominent common area or even given as door drops. Hold community events throughout the year.
Connecting residents and the local community
Consider making space available on-site for local community agencies (for temporary reasons e.g. ESL, First Aid courses, or for permanent office space). Also display and share in a prominent area pamphlets, brochures and posters from local community agencies related to services tenants can access, courses they can take, events happening in the community and more.